This article is a guide to building a survival kit specifically geared towards outdoor environments and situations. It will be of benefit to hikers, mountain climbers, canoers, adventurers or anyone else who spends a lot of time outdoors. It can be a harsh and unforgiving place out in the elements, so it pays to be ready.

You should house your items in a weatherproof, light-weight back pack, something comfortable and easy to carry. Include a brief survival guide covering how to use all of the items (I know, I know, you’re the man and already know how everything works, but memory tends to be at its worst in high stress environments. Include a manual).

Let’s take a look at some of the potential items we can include in our kit:

Food & Water

  • 3-4L of water- probably your most important item right here. Read this article on emergency water supply and storage.
  • 1-2 days worth of food- non-perishable, high-nutrient, high-calorie stuff. Protein bars, peanut butter, granola bars, MREs, freeze dried food, etc.
  • Fishing line and hooks- you can set them up, go do what you need to, and hopefully come back to some nice fish for dinner.
  • Water purification tablets- a good backup if your initial water supply runs out. Check out this article on emergency water filtration and purification.

Tools and Equipment

  • Mini LED flashlight- they’re smaller, brighter, and last longer than regular flashlights. Go with white or yellow, the most visible colors.
  • A good knife- something like a small machete will do. Large enough to cut wood, clear forest, but small enough for more finesse jobs.
  • A small Swiss army knife- multiple possible uses, obviously.
  • 20 ft of Para cord- various uses- creating a shelter, bundling fire wood, etc.
  • Needles and heavy thread- for repairing torn fabrics, stitching wounds.
  • A compass- for navigating your way home.
  • Duct tape- so many potential uses.
  • A small cooking tin- for cooking your food in.
  • A small magnifying glass- for inspecting things, starting fires.
  • Magnesium and flint bar- another option for fire starting.
  • Safety pins- many possible uses- holding heavy fabrics together, fashioning fish hooks, etc.


  • Extra-strength pain killers- for treating pain and injuries.
  • A first aid kit- an essential piece to any survival kit. While there are many good ones for sale, building your own can help you become more acquainted with the parts and how to use them. If interested, check out our article on creating your own first aid kit.
  • Diarrhea pills- because crapping your pants while lost in the wilderness is no fun at all. Seriously though, that’s valuable fluid you’re losing. These can keep you comfortable and hydrated if you’re bit by the bug.


  • A good pair of leather gloves
  • A warm hat
  • Extra socks


  • A pencil and a few sheets of paper- for taking notes, writing down addresses.
  • A reflective survival blanket- to stay warm. Wear on the outside, above all of your clothes.
  • Painter’s tarp or garbage bags- for collecting garbage and waste, using as ponchos, creating a shelter.
  • A loud whistle- for signaling, or scaring off animals.
  • A lighter or matches- for starting fires.
  • Mirror – for inspecting wounds, or signaling.
  • Map- for navigating your way home.
  • Sunscreen- for avoiding sunburn.
  • Bug repellant- to avoid getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.
  • Ziploc freezer bags- for leftovers, storing things.
  • $50+- when you get back to civilization, you may need food or gas. Best to have some cash on hand.

Bring your survival kit with you whenever you venture outdoors, and it just might save your life.



Good luck and stay prepared!

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  1. Irish-7 says:

    Excellent list! We must think alike, or have been educated by the same mentors. The survival kits that I packed for my family contained all of these items, plus a few more odds & ends. I did not compare them line for line. I just read your list and the recalled the contents of our packs. A few additions that come to mind that are lightweight and do not take up too much space are insect repellent and sunscreen. The bug juice being the more important as any good woodsman knows, your exposed skin should be covered. I bought the machetes that have a saw blade on the back side. If you are going to carry one, might as well make it dual capable! One last item that I did not see on your list is a firearm. Hunting and security are part of any survival situation. If you are packing / preparing for a family, you have the option of carrying multiple weapons systems. For example, my youngest son is assigned the .22 rifle, my wife a .20 gauge shotgun, my oldest a .12 GA shotgun and I have the more powerful (assault type) rifle. We each have a different model hand gun that further enhances our capabilities. I have a revolver that shoots 45LC & .410 shotgun shells, son#1 carries a .357 MAG, wife has a .380 and the youngest a .22LR. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Irish,

      You guys seem to like the outdoors as much as we do. However, when we go out hiking or camping we take basic firepower: 12 gauge shot gun for bear and a 22 lr rifle for small game and plinking. We don’t go out into the woods like we are escaping zombies in a SHTF scenario or part of a recon patrol. Don’t you think that you guys are in “Over Kill” just a little bit. Imho.

      Just keep safe, relax and enjoy yourselves in the great outdoors. Remember it’s not a war zone…..yet.

  2. Thanks Irish, I actually had sun screen and bug repellant on my initial list but I somehow forgot to add them to the article. No idea how that happened, but I’m going to add them now.

    As for fire arms, at this point I’m woefully uninformed on the subject (and any implications that might come from writing about them), so it’s a topic I’m going to leave alone for now until I actually know what I’m talking about :)

    • Hi RamboMoe,

      Don’t worry about the “guns” ’til later. There is so much BS and hype about what makes a ‘perfect’ survival firearm, you need a ladder to stay above it all. If the truth be known, the best survival gun is the one that YOU feel comfortable with and can shoot well.

      Just remember, having a fancy gun with all the bells and whistles at the range is one thing. Being out in the bush with one firearm that YOU need to depend on for food and defence is quite another. Keep it simple!

      Keep safe and enjoy the bounty of life.

      • P.S. I forgot, RamboMoe, if you need some basic information later on some good, basic ‘survival guns’ let me know. I’d be glad to share some information with you. I’m no expert, but 16 years in the army has taught me a lot about weapons and ballistics; what works and what doesn’t. Hope that helps.

        Keep safe.

  3. Yeah Whatchdog, I would be interested. My e-mail is preparedforthat@gmail.com.

  4. Very good list and advice. An old time survival mentor of mine always stressed the importance of a para cord in creating a good shelter and its other usages.

  5. Steven says:

    One everyone seem to forget is good pair of leather gloves

  6. fiercefang says:

    maybe a plant guide would help too.

  7. Irish-7 says:

    I forgot about posting on this site, and consequently never checked for replies. I should have elaborated that my plan with firearms is a Bug Out Survival situation. Although my wife and I both have Concealed Carry Permits for handguns, those pistols on our person are generally the only guns we carry around all the time. I do keep an Henry AR-7 .22 Survival rifle and Rossi Circuit Judge .410 shotgun in my SUV. The shotguns and Modern Sporting Rifles are secured in gun safes at multiple locations. Watchdog, I am also an Army veteran. In September 2010, I retired after 30 years of service. I have respect for all who served honorably.

  8. Good to hear from you, Irish. If you every decide to write an article on the subject, I will post it.

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